Purple Potatoes, Red Masala

I’ve previously posted at least three recipes for alur-dom/dum alu (here, here and here). You might think that’s enough but here’s a fourth. Alur dom/dum alu is made in certain broad ways in the parts of India that make dishes by that name. I do like more traditional ways of making it but I also think of the name of the dish as authorizing all kinds of approaches: as long as you cook potatoes, covered, in a thick or thin gravy with masala I think you’ve made alur dom/dum alu. You may disagree but that’s how I see it. Anyway, I don’t know why I’m leading this post off with these observations because this recipe is nothing very wild or unexpected. The only really unusual thing here is the use of small purple potatoes. Everything else is just a matter of plus/minus from ways in which you might already make alur dom/dum alu. You could, of course, make this dish with small yellow or red potatoes as well but I really like the sweet flavour of purple potatoes and think they work particularly well here. Give it a go and see what you think.


  • 1-1.5 lbs purple potatoes, skin on and left whole or cut in half, depending on size
  • 1 tspn zeera/cumin seed
  • 3-5 dried red chillies
  • 1/4 tspn hing/asafoetida
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves and as much ginger ground into a paste with enough water to get the grinder blades moving
  • 1/2 tspn haldi
  • The following ground together to a fine powder: 1 tspn coriander seed, 1/3 tspn methi/fenugreek seed
  • 1/2 tspn garam masala
  • 3/4 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 big pinch gur/jaggery or dark brown sugar
  • 1.5 cups water
  • Salt
  • 2-3 tblspns mustard oil or neutral oil of choice
  • 1.5 tblspns chopped chives (or dhania/cilantro)


  1. Heat the oil over medium heat until it shimmers or, if using mustard oil, till it just begins to smoke.
  2. Add the zeera/cumin seeds and stir till it begins to darken.
  3. Add the dried red chillies and stir.
  4. Add the hing and stir.
  5. Add the onions, mix in an saute, stirring often for 7-10 minutes till browned.
  6. Add the ginger-garlic paste and saute till the raw aroma is gone.
  7. Add the haldi, ground spices and garam masala, mix in and saute for another minute or so.
  8. Add the potatoes, mix in and stir to coat thoroughly with the spices and onion.
  9. Saute the potaotes, stirring constantly, for 5-7 minutes.
  10. Add the tomatoes and salt, mix in and saute, stirring constantly, till the tomato has cooked down completely and the oil begins to separate.
  11. Add the water and the gur, mix in, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or till the potatoes are done.
  12. Uncover and add one tablespoon of the chopped chives and mix in.
  13. Take off heat, garnish with the remaining chives and serve with chapatis/parathas/tortillas or rice.


  1. As I say, if you don’t have purple potatoes at hand or available you can make this with whatever small potatoes you have.
  2. I like to make this thick. You can add a bit more water if you like but I wouldn’t go over 2 cups.
  3. The heat here comes from the dried red chillies. You could modulate it by using hotter or milder dried chillies. If you insist on making it much hotter you could also add some red chilli powder with the other powdered masalas.
  4. I like the bite of chives with a dish like this but feel free to use dhania/cilantro instead.
  5. Yes, there’s a Reel of this being made.


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